The role of disaster entrepreneurs in building community resilience

Martina Linnenluecke, Brent McKnight

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


Post-disaster socioeconomic recovery is often driven by private businesses undertaking entrepreneurial activities. For instance, a Fortune article entitled ‘The Only Lifeline was the Walmart’ documents the role that Walmart played in providing goods and services to those in New Orleans affected by Hurricane Katrina. Drawing on role theory, our study focuses on organizations that perform roles during disasters not ordinarily expected of them, but which often play critical parts in the resilience of communities. We term those organizations ‘disaster entrepreneurs’. We propose that there are three different forms of disaster entrepreneurship: remaking/improvising roles (e.g., organizations such as churches or shopping malls becoming shelters on an ad-hoc basis and as the need arises), activating latent roles (e.g., private businesses activating pre-existing plans to assume a different role during a disaster, such as Waffle House activating mobile command centers), and scaling roles (i.e., businesses, typically from outside the community, assisting with the provision of goods and/or services when demand is scaled up and cannot be filled by the community alone). We develop propositions how disaster entrepreneurship contributes to community-level resilience and supports communities in returning to “normal” functioning following a disaster impact. We conclude with implications for future research on this topic.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademy of Management Proceedings
Place of PublicationPhiladelphia, PA
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event74th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, AOM 2014 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Duration: 1 Aug 20145 Aug 2014


Conference74th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, AOM 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania


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